With a demanding leadership position in the United States Air Force, the ability to study and complete assignments on his own schedule was key when Zac Bartlett was choosing a graduate program. At the urging of a coworker, he began researching the University of Oklahoma.
“I was very interested in attending a school that offered a program focused in leadership or human capital development,” said Bartlett, an OU Extended Campus Organizational Leadership graduate student. “Ultimately, it came down to OU and another school. The flexibility to accomplish the assignments solidified my decision to join OU, whereas the other school required virtual check-ins that are not conducive to my working life.”
Bartlett, like many other OU Extended Campus military-connected students, has found academic success possible, even while deployed, thanks to the ease and structure of OU Extended Campus programs and the support of instructors and advisors.
“This institution is phenomenal at assisting military-connected individuals. Choosing to go to a prestigious university such as the University of Oklahoma may seem daunting, but the courses are engaging, the staff is exceptional and the material is appropriate,” he said. “The potential to succeed is already identified in those who want to pursue higher education, because they’ve expressed a desire for more knowledge. OU Extended Campus simply helps propel those people to earn the success they are seeking.”
“This institution is phenomenal at assisting military-connected individuals. Choosing to go to a prestigious university such as the University of Oklahoma may seem daunting, but the courses are engaging, the staff is exceptional and the material is appropriate.”
OU Extended Campus has a long history of commitment to military-connected students like Bartlett, offering a military-friendly atmosphere that makes service members feel valued and appreciated. Additionally, the college consistently ranks in the Top 10 for best online programs for veterans in U.S. News & World Report.
“Some of the military’s greatest benefits are the educational benefits. It’s not surprising that many people join to earn a degree and create a better life for their families,” Bartlett said. “The decision to join the military should not be taken lightly; however, if you join the military with the idea of earning an education, why would you not attend a renowned institution that broadens your horizons through comprehensive material, flexible learning and dedicated professionals, such as OU Extended Campus?”
Bartlett is currently stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada, but spent part of his time at OU Extended Campus deployed to the Middle East. He said self-discipline and support from OU Extended Campus made it possible to continue his degree even while overseas.
“OU Extended Campus has been extremely helpful throughout my time in the program. Being geographically separated from OU, I rely heavily on email communication to navigate what I should be doing. In this way, LaDawn Jones and the team of experts have been instrumental,” he said. “Whenever I have a question or concern, I receive quick, relevant responses that help me make informed decisions. When I was tasked to deploy, I had to drop the Experiential Leadership Completion Program from my spring course load, but I was able to immediately pivot and sign up for a required elective that allowed me to continue my coursework without any setbacks to my scheduled graduation date.”
Bartlett said he’s able to apply what he’s learning in the Organizational Leadership program to his role as a medical logistician. He’s able to leverage his skills to lead a section of six teammates that oversee 400 contractors in the Air Force’s First Level Trauma Center.
“I chose this degree program because I discovered my passion for helping people achieve their goals while serving in the Air Force,” Bartlett said. “Leadership is a dynamic paradigm that requires consistent growth, and this program offers a variety of perspectives, materials and resources which enhance my ability to lead across the functional platforms, such as training and medical supply.”
Although he has sufficient support, Bartlett admitted it’s not easy to balance school with his career in the Air Force. In addition to his daily responsibilities, his other duties include professional development, physical fitness, supporting his local community, formal events and training subordinates.
“Compounding those responsibilities with the challenges of maintaining a healthy social life and taking care of family – it’s quite a juggling act,” he said. “I dedicate time during the week specifically for schoolwork, and I like to discuss the material with my coworkers as we tackle objectives. Understanding their thoughts allows me to digest the material more effectively while also maturing their viewpoints.
“I’ve been very fortunate that my degree program allows me to reflect on previous experiences leading masses of people in different environments,” he added. “Because my passion is people, it’s certainly energizing that I have the opportunity to learn information that pertains directly to people, cultures and leadership.”
Bartlett plans to retire from the Air Force someday as a chief master sergeant, but he ultimately just wants to make a difference. While he joined the Air Force to earn an education and create a foundation for his life, along the way he discovered a passion for helping others overcome their own obstacles.
“As my journey continues, OU will have a special place in my heart because of everything I’ve learned and utilized to enhance my life and the people around me,” Bartlett said. “Pursuing a degree through a rigorous and comprehensive academic institution has opened my mind to a variety of perspectives and resources – all while being supported by a staff that prioritizes student learning regardless of circumstances. OU Extended Campus has been an incredible opportunity that I’m proud I took advantage of.”